Thursday, March 7, 2013

New Study Explains Rise in Antipsychotic Use by Children

A major study assessing changes in pediatric use of antipsychotic medications found that in the decade from 1997 to 2006 their use in the Medicaid program nearly tripled, from 1.2% to 3.2%. The study of more than 450,000 children and adolescents who were insured continuously through Medicaid during the 10-year period is reported in the March issue of Psychiatric Services. The goal of the study, led by Julie Magno Zito, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research, was to evaluate the impact on antipsychotic use over the decade in the following Medicaid-eligibility categories—foster care, State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

They found that "expansion of antipsychotic use was most prominent among youths who were Medicaid eligible because of low family income (SCHIP)" followed by those eligible through the TANF program. This increase reflected a significant increase in prescription of antipsychotics for behavior disorders and bipolar disorder rather than for treatment of schizophrenia, other psychoses, or pervasive developmental disorders. In fact, the researchers pointed out, "youths with externalizing behavior disorders far outnumbered those with [schizophrenia and pervasive developmental disorders] and constituted the largest group of utilizers of antipsychotic medications." In addition, the increase was significantly greater among African Americans and Hispanics that among white youth.

Read the full report of the study in Psychiatric Services. To read much more about the use of antipsychotics in children and adolescents, see Psychiatric News here and here.

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